By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The new transgender policy adopted on a 6-2 vote by the board of directors of the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) last week took effect immediately.
However, their decision could either be upheld or overridden by the 51 members of the Representative Assembly scheduled to meet April 8.
With no present policy in place, the board voted to implement a policy that would allow transgender student athletes to compete, providing they meet a number of conditions.
Under the new policy, a transgender student athlete could apply to the NSAA to participate in NSAA activities. The student would have to meet eligibility guidelines in their local school, i.e., grades, attendance, etc.
The NSAA would then convene a gender identity eligibility committee to determine if the student needs the transgender identification.
The committee would include a doctor with experience in transgender health care; psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed mental health professional; a school adminstrator not from the student’s school; and an NSAA staff member.
A transgender female (male-to-female MTF) wishing to compete must have completed one year of hormone treatment or undergone a surgical gender reassignment procedure.
In addition, the MTF student athlete would have to prove that she does not possess physical or psychological advantages over genetic females in the group.
Physical advantages could include bone structure, muscle mass and/or testosterone hormonal levels, etc.
Assembly members will vote on a transgender bylaw forwarded to the assembly by four of the six districts that include NSAA member schools.
The bylaw, preferred by a majority of the districts, determines eligibility of transgender student athletes by the “gender-at -birth” listed on the student’s birth certificate.
During district meetings around the state to discuss proposed bylaw changes, four of six districts favored that terminology.
District IV, which includes Perkins County Schools, voted 47-7 in favor of the gender-at-birth proposal, with one abstention.
District V, which includes Chase County Schools, Wauneta-Palisade Schools and Dundy County Stratton Schools, voted 15-8 in favor of the bylaw with one school abstaining.
In the District V voting Jan. 13, Chase County Schools Activities Director Troy Hauxwell voted in favor of the gender-at-birth bylaw.
Statewide, 169 schools supported the gender-at-birth designation compared to 102 opposed with 21 abstentions.
3/5ths vote to enact bylaw
The fate of the gender-at-birth bylaw rests with the Representative Assembly.
Last week’s action by the NSAA board stands as an “approved ruling” for policy on the issue.
However, if the assembly approves the bylaw proposal, it trumps the approved ruling by the board of directors.
The constitution and bylaws of the NSAA require a 3/5ths vote for a bylaw proposal to take effect. With 51 representatives, 31 would have to vote in favor of bylaw change for it to override the board’s action.
Anything less and the policy adopted last week by the NSAA board stands.
Any bylaw approved by the assembly does not take effect until the beginning of the next school year, in this case, 2016-17. Until then, the policy adopted by the board remains in effect.
` District boundaries are determined by the number of students in grades 9 through 11 based upon the enrollment figures on the last Friday in September of the preceding school year.
District I, which includes the Lincoln metro schools, and District II, which includes the Omaha metro schools, have the largest number of representatives to assembly with 10 and 18, respectively.
District III in northeast Nebraska gets six, District IV seven, District V and VI each with five for a total of 51 votes.